Video clip explains strategic danger of ‘Two-state solution’
A 5.5-minute video in which Middle East strategy analyst Mark Langfan explains the dangers on the “two state solution” has become a viral hit in Israel, more than three years after it originally aired on CBN.
After being featured in November on a Facebook page created by grassroots Zionist activists called Kol Ha’am (“The People’s Voice”), the Hebrew-subtitled clip has garnered 367,000 views to date, which – combined with its views elsewhere on social media, puts it at a total of about 500,000 total views, most of them from Israelis.
In terms of views per population, this would be the equivalent of 33 million views for a video targeting the US audience. It is currently shooting up at over 20,000 views per day.
In the video, Langfan, a New York-based attorney, pro-Israel activist and media analyst appears on Erick Stakelbeck’s show, “The Watchman”, to clarify what could – and probably would – happen, if Israel were ever to allow Palestinian statehood in Judea and Samaria.
Using a three dimensional map of Israel, a few pieces of colored Plexiglas and a lot of old-fashioned common sense – Langfan demonstrates the ease with which Arab control of the mountainous Biblical heartland would place 70% of Israel’s Jewish populace and 80% of its industrial base within the range of truck-based chemical weapons of mass destruction.
The clip’s success runs counter to commonly held views on social media marketing, according to which the short attention span of the modern audience prescribes that only extremely short and fast-moving videos stand a chance of success. To the contrary, it seems that the Israeli audience appreciates precisely the in-depth, low-snazz analysis that Langfan provides.
Some of viewers’ reactions – most of which seem to be from people in their 20s and 30s – compliment the video for showing what Israel’s left-leaning educational system and media do not, and for providing a solid, fact-based rationale for rejecting the “two-state solution” that has been accepted by Israel’s leadership. (Arutz Sheva)
Netanyahu’s ex-chief of staff turns state’s witness
Ari Harow, a former chief of staff and aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, signed a deal on Friday to turn state’s witness as part of ongoing investigations into alleged corruption by Israel’s premier.
According to a statement from the Israel Police, Harow is expected to receive six months of community service and a NIS 700,000 fine ($193,000) on breach of trust charges in exchange for his testimony against his former boss.
News of the deal, seen by observers as a turning point in the police investigations, follows a gag order imposed Thursday on details pertaining to the case.
It came a day after Israeli police explicitly said for the first time that a number of corruption investigations involving Netanyahu deal with “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.” The police stopped short of saying that the Israeli leader was directly suspected of these crimes.
Harow has been under investigation since mid-2015 on suspicion of using his ties to Netanyahu to advance his private business interests. Police have recommended he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in the case, but the attorney general has yet to file formal charges.
The investigations into Harow sparked at least one corruption investigation of Netanyahu himself, after investigators uncovered recordings on Harow’s computer of meetings between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes in late 2014 and early 2015. In the recordings, the two seemed to discuss an illicit quid pro quo deal that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, through Knesset legislation in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
That investigation, dubbed Case 2000 by police, is ongoing, as is a separate corruption investigation — Case 1000 — into allegations the prime minister received illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors.
Harow is reportedly willing to provide information in both probes, having served as chief of staff during the time of the alleged deal with Mozes and while Netanyahu is said to have received gifts worth thousands of shekels.
Harow first worked for Netanyahu as foreign affairs adviser during his stint as leader of the opposition. He then spearheaded the 2009 election campaign that catapulted Netanyahu back into office. Following the election, he served as the prime minister’s bureau chief until 2010, managing Netanyahu’s schedule and advising him on a range of issues.
Harow took a break from politics in 2010, when he founded 3H Global. He later returned as chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014, serving there for a year before leaving to run the 2015 election campaign for Netanyahu’s Likud party. (the Times of Israel)
66% of Israelis say Netanyahu should quit if indicted – poll
Two thirds (66 percent) of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign if indicted for corruption, and just over half (51%) say they don’t believe his protestations of innocence, according to a poll published on Sunday.
According to a Channel 10 news survey of 751 respondents, the governing Likud would come out ahead the other political parties in a general election — with or without Netanyahu at the helm.
Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar was best poised to be elected to the premiership if Netanyahu was out of the running, the poll said.
According to the poll, 66% say Netanyahu should step down if indicted, while 22% say he shouldn’t quit, and 13% are undecided. Asked if they believed the prime minister’s assertion that he is innocent of all the allegations against him, 51% said no, 27% said yes, and 22% said they didn’t know.
The survey came two days after Ari Harow, a former key associate of the prime minister, signed a deal to turn state’s witness, and a day after police explicitly said for the first time that the investigations of Netanyahu revolve around suspicions of “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has said the law does not require a prime minister to step down unless convicted of a crime carrying moral turpitude. Ministers have to step down if indicted, but not prime ministers, she said — an opinion not universally accepted by legal experts.
The poll saw the Likud party retaining its lead, even gaining without Netanyahu as its leader. With Netanyahu at the helm, the party was projected to receive 27 seats, followed by 22 for the Zionist Union, 18 for Yesh Atid, 11 for the Joint (Arab) List, 9 for Jewish Home, 8 for Yisrael Beytenu, 7 for Kulanu and United Torah Judaism, 6 for Shas, and 5 for Meretz.
Without Netanyahu, however, the poll found that Likud would swell to 31 seats, while the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties would each lose two seats as compared to the previous spread, with 20 and 16 seats, respectively.
With Netanyahu out, the poll also predicted that Sa’ar, who recently rejoined the Likud party, would be most likely to lead Israel’s right with 23%. Behind him, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett received 11%, followed by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman with 9%.
The poll was conducted on Sunday among 751 respondents — 600 Jewish Israelis and 151 Arab Israelis. The margin of error was 3.6%.
On Friday, Hebrew media reported that police would recommend filing indictments against Netanyahu in two cases — Case 1000 and Case 2000 — as the investigations appear to be strengthened by “significant material” provided by Harow, his former chief of staff.
A police recommendation does not carry legal weight; it is for state prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth. (the Times of Israel)
Israel says it plans to close Al Jazeera’s offices
Israel said on Sunday it planned to close the local offices of Al Jazeera, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster of incitement behind deadly terror attacks.
Israel is to join regional Arab states that have already shut the station after accusing the broadcaster of inciting violence, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said.
Kara, of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said he wants to revoke press cards from Al Jazeera reporters, which in effect would prevent them from working in Israel.
Kara added he has asked cable and satellite networks to block their transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether. No timetable for the measures was given.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al Jazeera’s local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.
“Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,” Kara said. “And when we see that all these countries have determined as fact that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State [group], Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that, then something ludicrous is happening here,” he said, adding that the channel “caused us to lose the lives of the best of our sons.”
Netanyahu had said on July 27 that he wanted Al Jazeera expelled amid tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“The Al Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Protests erupted at the contentious site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), after Israel last month installed new security measures including metal detectors, following the killing of two Israeli policemen by three Israeli Arab attackers who shot them using weapons smuggled onto the holy site.
“I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in calling for the channel’s expulsion.
“If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al Jazeera from Israel.”
Israeli officials have long accused Al Jazeera of bias against the Jewish state. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has likened its coverage to “Nazi Germany-style” propaganda.
Doha-based Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though its Arab and English channels immediately reported on the news.
Al Jazeera, a pan-Arab satellite network funded by the Qatari government, has been targeted by Arab nations now isolating Qatar as part of a months-long political dispute over Doha’s politics and alleged support for extremists. (the Times of Israel)
Two Muslim-majority Africa states to send first-ever envoys to Israel
Senegal and Guinea are sending their first-ever ambassadors to Israel next week, as Israel continues to expand its outreach to Africa.
Talla Fall, of Senegal, and Amara Camara, of Guinea, are scheduled to present their respective letters of credence to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday at a ceremony in Jerusalem, officially taking up their positions as non-resident ambassadors to Israel. Fall, who also represents Dakar in Egypt, will be based in Cairo. Camara will work out of Paris.
Guinea and Senegal — both Muslim-majority nations in West Africa — have recently upgraded their relations with Israel. While both countries had existing diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, neither has ever appointed an ambassador to Israel.
Dakar and Jerusalem two months ago agreed to normalize ties after Israel had recalled its ambassador, following Senegal’s co-sponsorship of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016. Jerusalem had also canceled its foreign aid programs in Senegal as part of a rash of retaliatory steps against countries that supported the measure against Israeli settlements.
On June 4, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Senegal’s President Macky Sall at a summit of West African leaders in Liberia, after which the two leaders announced the resumption of full ties. Israel returned its ambassador, Paul Hirschson, to Dakar, and Senegal vowed to back Israel’s candidacy for observer status at the African Union, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement at the time.
The leaders also agreed to advance cooperation in defense and agriculture, according to the PMO.
In February, Netanyahu had decided not to return Israel’s ambassador to Senegal, deepening the downgrading of the Jewish state’s diplomatic ties with the West African country over its support for the UN resolution.
Guinea and Israel renewed diplomatic relations in July 2016, nearly 50 years after they had been severed. The government in Conakry was the only one to sever ties with the Jewish state after the 1967 Six-Day War (several other countries cut relations with Israel after the 1973 Yom Kippur War).
The Republic of Guinea — not to be confused with tiny Guinea-Bissau, which is also in West Africa, and Equatorial Guinea, in Central Africa — has some 10.5 million inhabitants, 85 percent of whom are Muslim.
Under the motto “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel,” Netanyahu has declared diplomatic outreach to Africa as one of his key foreign policy objectives. Offering African states development aid, economic cooperation, and anti-terrorism know-how, Netanyahu aims to break the traditional anti-Israel majority in international organizations such as the UN.
In the last 14 months, Netanyahu has visited the continent twice and is planning to attend a major Africa-Israel summit in Togo in October.
“Israel isn’t burdened by the past, as are many of the former colonial countries, in our discourse with African countries. Ours is a relationship of partnership,” Hirschson, Israel’s ambassador to both countries, told The Times of Israel.
“Israel and many African countries have many similarities, both in our experiences and our conditions,” he added. “We both knew slavery, exile and being refugees. We were both conquered and colonized and we regained sovereignty in modern times. We both have a small hold, family approach to farming and, as in many cases across Africa, live in and next to the desert.”
A few dozen Israeli business people live in Guinea and Senegal.
Netanyahu, during his June 4 visit to Monrovia, met with the presidents of half a dozen West African countries, including with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, a Muslim-majority nation with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
Several African leaders have also visited Israel in recent months.
Earlier this week, Cape Verde announced it will no longer vote against Israel at the UN. (the Times of Israel)
Israeli-made system aims to make the IED threat history
After three years of development, Israel Aerospace Industries has begun testing its Counter Improvised Explosive Device and Mine Suite mobile system.
The system can identify, locate and destroy improvised explosive devices and mines before troops even reach them.
According to project manager Reuven Y., the system, which is not yet operational, “is a new concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. It is a breakthrough technology against IEDs.”
Primarily intended for patrols during routine security missions on Israel’s borders, CIMS created by Elta, one of IAI’s subsidiaries, can detect both surface and underground IEDs, mines and roadside bombs.
“The CIMS suite was designed under the premise that no one sensor can provide the adequate probability of detection and low false-alarm rate required by today’s operational needs,” read a 2014 statement by IAI when the system was first unveiled.
With an above-surface detection system, and underground mine and IED detection system, CIMS can be installed on a number of tactical combat vehicles including tanks, APCs and even unmanned vehicles.
It can be operated day or night and in any weather condition and environment.
The ADS includes a groundbreaking side-looking SAR radar, high-resolution optical detection system and an infrared multispectral investigation system. MIDS consists of a Ground Penetrating Radar and a magnetic detector.
A large, rectangular multi-sensor system is placed directly in front of armored vehicles allowing it to search and destroy the IED.
Reuven told The Jerusalem Post that CIMS is a fully automated system that “when it detects an IED it automatically informs the troops making it so that a soldier does not need to exit the vehicle.”
According to IAI, CIMS has a 270° radius and when an IED or mine is identified, the system alerts soldiers with warning sounds and indicators on a screen inside the vehicle, which displays its findings.
The system also includes a firing position from where troops can shoot at the explosive device to destroy it without having to leave the safety of their vehicle.
The system’s sensors can be placed on any vehicle making it easier for customers. Reuven said the IAI plans to sell the system to the IDF as well as other armies and other governmental security agencies around the world.
With minimal training required – just two-three hours, according to Reuven – the two-pronged approach to IED and mine detection allows for more flexibility and while the underground MIDS system requires the vehicle to advance at 10 kph, the above-ground detection system can be operated while moving at twice that speed.
While IEDs and mines are not new to the battlefield, the use of these devices has become a matter of concern for modern armies both in regular and asymmetric warfare and over 2,000 US soldiers lost their lives to IEDs and roadside bombs since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In March, IDF troops defused two explosive charges found near the Gaza border. The army said the charges, which had been laid in an off-limits area in the northern Gaza Strip, were planted in order to harm IDF troops.
No troops were harmed. (Jerusalem Post)
The Temple Mount Crisis and Israel’s Cabinet: Recommendations for the Future
by Amos Yadlin INSS Insight
The Temple Mount crisis has passed, but the overall balance sheet is far from satisfactory. Given that events of a similar nature will almost certainly occur in the future, and since it is imperative that they be resolved with as little security and political damage to Israel as possible, Israel must review what ensued – not in an effort to single out guilty parties, but rather in an attempt to learn what will help the security-political cabinet respond more effectively in the next crisis.
The crisis concerning the Temple Mount that erupted in July 2017 appears to have ebbed. Despite predictions to the contrary, the Middle East is not ablaze; peoples and leaders of the region remain preoccupied with other crises; and there is no third intifada at Israel’s doorstep. At the same time, the attack on the Temple Mount that left two Israeli policemen dead brought on serious additional consequences, including the murders in Halamish, the tension with Jordan, worsened relations between Israel’s Jewish population and its Arab sector, and further erosion of Israel’s vague sovereignty on the Temple Mount.
The question now addresses the results of the crisis and the insights to emerge in its wake. More specifically, can Israel claim any political or security achievement? The event does not warrant a commission of inquiry or another report on the performance of the cabinet. Nevertheless, insofar as similar events will likely occur in the future, it is important that Israel study and review the incident in a process that is not a witch hunt that seeks to single out guilty parties, but rather one that strives to derive lessons that will help the political-security cabinet function more effectively during the next crisis.
The ability of the cabinet to take critical decisions is impeded by fierce political rivalries among its members, leaks to the media, fears of future commissions of inquiry, and the weakness of the entity that is supposed to prepare the background for these meetings, i.e., the National Security Council. Therefore, it is imperative that a review be conducted that focuses on fundamental issues and principles and Israel’s strategic goals. Following the attack on the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers, it was crucial to define clear objectives that at every point in time as the crisis unfolded would guide cabinet decisions regarding the possible benefits and dangers of prospective policies and the actions taken accordingly.
Israel’s primary objectives in the crisis were as follows:
- Security of the worshippers, visitors, and security personnel at the Temple Mount. In this context, efforts were necessary to ensure that no other weapons were present at the site and to prevent additional weapons from being smuggled on to the Temple Mount.
- De-escalation of the event, to prevent the tensions and clashes from spreading to the West Bank and prevent escalation vis-à-vis the Arab and Muslim world.
- Protection (i.e., maintaining and strengthening) of relations with states in the region with which Israel has shared interests. This includes maintaining the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and continuing cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
- Deterrence: maintaining Israel’s image of strength and demonstrating the price in the event of a terrorist attack or any other breach of Israeli security.
- Legitimization of Israeli action, with an emphasis on agreement with the US administration.
- Israel’s sovereignty on the Temple Mount, including Israeli responsibility for what goes on at the site, primarily with regard to security. This objective respects the understandings regarding the responsibility of the waqf and Jordan’s status at the site, in place since 1967 and reinforced by the terms of Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel.
There are clearly tensions between these various objectives. Correct strategic thinking is necessary to prioritize the objectives and reach the fine balance between them, in light of unfolding dynamics and principal interests. When the crisis at the Temple Mount erupted, it appears that security was initially viewed as the paramount consideration, and insufficient discussion was devoted to other issues. Metal detectors at the site were both placed and removed without any dialogue with the waqf or coordination with Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, or Egypt. This unilateral measure provided Israel’s adversaries with a platform to upset the fragile stability at this sensitive place. Hamas, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Qatar, and Turkey all sought to escalate the event.
During the second week following the outbreak of the crisis, and certainly following the terrorist attack at Halamish, tension emerged between the respective strategic objectives. On one side was the fear of escalation, the need for containment, and the preservation of Israel’s regional alliance with the Sunni states. Against this were security needs and the fear of setting a precedent of surrender under pressure. Paradoxically, the incident at the Israeli embassy in Jordan, in which two Jordanian civilians were killed by an Israeli security guard, enabled Israel to adjust the situation. The Israeli government worked to prevent escalation and to preserve the peace treaty with Jordan and Egypt, while taking risks in the realm of security and sustaining a degree of damage to Israeli deterrence and Israel’s partial sovereignty on the Temple Mount.
Against this background, several issues must be probed, in order to prepare for the next crisis. After the attack on the Temple Mount, would it have been preferable for Israel to limit itself to an immediate search of the mosques – where in fact no weapons were subsequently found – and focus its security activity on actions coordinated with Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia?
Second, could moderate forces among Arabs in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt have been enlisted in measures to counter the escalation? If the prospects for this alternative were not realistic, and technological solutions were the best option, perhaps less visible measures that can bolster security without the intrusiveness of metal detectors would have been preferable, particularly as most of the worshippers have no part in the violent activity.
Third, was the assessment of the Israel Security Agency (GSS) and Military Intelligence – regarding the possibility of the outbreak of a third intifada or a volcanic eruption in the Middle East as a result of the implementation of security measures at the Temple Mount – well based, or was this an extreme scenario? What more moderate measures could have prevented this assessment from becoming a reality?
The fourth question concerns Israel’s steadfastness. To what extent is Israel capable of allowing “non-violent” demonstrations to continue for more than one week? Should the resolve of those protesting Israel’s decisions have been examined? In this context, are there measured yet resolute actions to exert profound psychological pressure to compel Israel’s opponents to return to the former situation, even without fulfillment of most of their demands? The way in which the crisis was resolved, including their sense of victory, are likely to encourage additional pressure and demands.
Fifth, the issues of timing and coordination with the United States and the degree of US involvement in this type of event should be examined, including the US ability to influence the Sunni states.
Finally, on a deeper strategic level, did Israel consider how its management of the crisis on the Temple Mount would impact on the weightier security challenges it currently faces? In other words, how might Israeli conduct influence more urgent issues such as Iran’s regional expansion, a future conflict with Hezbollah, and the attempt to revive the political process with the Palestinians?
The answers to these questions that the cabinet will receive from this review will help Israel contend more effectively with the next crisis that will likely develop sooner or later – as a result of a loss of deterrence given Israel’s capitulation during the recent crisis; the need to curb ongoing incitement; or the desire of the radical axis to exploit developments in the Palestinian arena to escalate the situation in a way that will harm Israel. Looking ahead, it is important that the cabinet instruct the major executive bodies to formulate a better policy for preparedness and prevention, and act accordingly.
In this framework, understandings and mechanisms should be formulated with Egypt and the United States for their involvement in future similar situations. It is essential to repair the relations with Jordan, and share the findings of the review, along with an apology and compensation for the family of the Jordanian killed at the embassy (who is not suspected of attacking the security guard). Viable tools should be developed to administer the Temple Mount in partnership with Jordan and with responsible elements from among the Arab population in East Jerusalem. In tandem, attention should be paid to Jewish extremists, whose acts of revenge are potentially far more volatile than the placement of metal detectors on the Temple Mount. Finally, Israel should formulate a comprehensive political, intelligence, and operational response to the connection between the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas and Turkey.
Particularly as Israel’s National Security Council – which is responsible for preparing cabinet discussions and integrating the recommendations of the security entities – is understaffed and lacks influence, it is important that cabinet members come to future meetings equipped with an analytical model that includes the fundamental questions that must be asked. In addition, the cabinet must be informed of the conclusions reached following the review of the Temple Mount crisis of July 2017.
It’s Not About Flags: The Real Problem With Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue
by Jonathan S. Tobin Ha’aretz
Washington State’s Camp Solomon Schechter didn’t know it was about to start a bitter debate across the Jewish world when it raised a Palestinian flag over their grounds last month. The independent camp wound up apologizing for attempting what they called a “teachable moment”, and ultimately took down their Facebook page after it was deluged with criticism – and some praise.
But the issue worth discussing here isn’t whether, as some of their critics claimed, the camp’s leadership betrayed Israel or if, as some on the left argued, those who opposed the flag raising are bigots who oppose peace.
Rather, it is whether most of what passes for interfaith or Jewish-Arab dialogue is something that can produce progress toward peace or is, instead, merely another proof of author Cynthia Ozick’s axiom, that “universalism is the parochialism of the Jews.”
The flag was a gesture of welcome for a visiting group affiliated with Kids4Peace, an organization that brings together children from disparate groups to build relationships. The sojourn of the 13 Jewish, Muslim and Christian children at the camp apparently went off without incident.
But once the flag-raising became known, the camp apologized and acknowledged the “sadness and anger” it provoked. The camp was at pains to assert that their institution was “unabashedly pro-Israel.” They also said the Palestinian banner was a demonstration of “empathy,” not backing for the actions of the Palestinian Authority or a direct political statement, even if the apology seemed to cast it as a vague expression of support for a two-state solution.
The incident was a Rorschach test in which those on the right vented outrage about betrayal and the left defended compassion. Yet the real point of interest here is not the undoubted good intentions of those responsible or how tremendous the power that symbols like flags still have to engender passion.
Rather, it is the blind faith that so many Jews have in the value of dialogue programs.
In principle, the idea is unexceptional. Getting people from warring groups to know each other as individuals rather than symbols of fear and loathing can only help undermine stereotypes that fuel conflict.
But there is more to that lofty goal than merely throwing children or adults together. Since the impetus for dialogue between Arabs and Jews almost always comes from the latter, they tend to follow a familiar pattern: Arabs denounce Israeli oppression and the Jews nod in sympathetic agreement or fail to answer in kind about the actions of the Palestinians.
That’s because supporters of the peace process and concessions to the Palestinians are usually the ones organizing and taking part in such efforts, not skeptics or opponents of a two-state solution.
But, as a journalist who has covered dialogue programs for decades, what has always been clear – though usually not to the organizers – is the lack of symmetry between the two sides.
Few if any Palestinian participants ever express doubt about the justice of their cause or feel obligated to temper their anger at what they consider to be the sins of Zionism. But even supporters of Israel who engage in these programs generally feel compelled to express criticisms of Israel or to show respect if not sympathy for the Palestinian Nakba narrative.
That isn’t the sort of dialogue that can help bridge the divide between the two peoples, let alone promote peace.
True dialogue involves airing disagreement and promoting respect for differing narratives, not one side affirming the stance of the other. Kids4Peace and similar groups speak of the need to introduce Jews to pro-peace Palestinians. But the problem is that there is no comparable force in Palestinian politics to Peace Now, or J Street.
The Jewish left may say that is understandable given the relative strength of the two sides. Yet there is no sizable Arab constituency criticizing Fatah or Hamas for not working hard enough to compromise as is there is among Jews attacking the Israeli government. One doesn’t have to be an opponent of peace or have no respect or universal values to understand that Kids4Peace or anything like it is unlikely to change that.
Camps can fly any flag they want but so long as that is true, such dialogues will not only do minimal good, but instead will reinforce a dynamic that does little to promote support for compromise on both sides.